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Stocks Holding On To Modest Gains In Mid-Afternoon Trading - U.S. Commentary

3/15/2012 2:05 PM ET

While buying interest has remained relatively subdued, stocks are seeing modest strength in mid-afternoon trading on Thursday. The major averages have pulled back off their best levels of the day but remain in positive territory.

Another batch of upbeat U.S. economic data is contributing to the modest strength on Wall Street, with a report from Labor Department showing a bigger than expected drop in initial jobless claims in the week ended March 10th.

Transportation stocks are seeing considerable strength on the day, driving the Dow Jones Transportation Average up by 3.2 percent. With the gain, the average has risen to its best intraday level in over a month.

Significant strength also remains visible among banking stocks, as reflected by the 2.6 percent gain being posted by the KBW Bank Index. The gain extends a recent upward move by the index, which has risen to an eight-month intraday high.

Brokerage, housing, biotech, and semiconductor stocks are also posting notable gains, while some weakness has emerged among computer hardware stocks.

The major averages have moved to the downside in the past few minutes but are holding on to modest gains. The Dow is up 25.55 points or 0.2 percent at 13,219.65, the Nasdaq is up 3.82 points or 0.1 percent at 3,044.55 and the S&P 500 is up 4.68 points or 0.3 percent at 1,398.96.

by RTT Staff Writer

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